Use of Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) (Drones)
CONTACT THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OFFICE BEFORE UNDERTAKING ANY WORK WITH DRONES
No School, College, Service or member of staff or student, or 3rd Party is permitted to fly or authorise the flying of a drone for University-business (or over University property) without prior approval.
This will require the relevant Form to be submitted to H&S and approval given before the drone operation takes place.
- Drones Policy
- Drones – Remote Pilot Authorisation Form (staff and students must submit to Health and Safety Office for approval)
- Drone Mission Plan and RA Form (to be submitted by staff and students to Health and Safety Office for each flight)
- 3rd Party-led Drone Operation Approval Form (3rd Parties to complete and submit)
What is a Drone?
A drone is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. Its flight controlled either autonomously by on-board computers or by the remote control of a pilot on the ground. Their use was historically associated with the military but in recent years drones have become readily available for use in work activities eg surveys, event filming, fauna research.
Due to their size, and use of high-speed rotors / blades to propel them, drones can be dangerous if not handled correctly. Accidents and incidents associated with their use has increased in recent years.
The University and its constituent Colleges and Services, have a specific obligation when operating drones to comply with the requirements of the Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2020 (also known as CAP2038A00).
Until the 31st December 2020, the required level of pilot competency and certification was based on any commercial gain from flying a drone. From 1st January 2021 there was no longer the requirement to identify if flights were commercial or non-commercial. Instead, the focus is to align pilot competency with the level of risk that each flight presents. Considerations include the Class of the aircraft being flown (including any accessories) how close the drone will fly to people not directly involved with the flight (uninvolved people) and how close the drone will fly from built-up areas (congested areas). The greater the risk, the more rigorous training and Civil Aviation Authority involvement is required.
The CAA now operates three risk categories, namely:
Open Category: Low risk operations (incls. 3 sub-categories A1, A2, A3) that if set parameters are followed can be safely conducted and require no specific CAA authorization.
- Specific Category: Medium risk operations that cannot be conducted within the parameters of the Open Category. Requires greater, proven pilot competency and clearly defined operated procedures authorized by the CAA.
- Certified: Drone mass above 25kg and high risk. This category is not undertaken in-house at the University.
The University will only operate drone operations in the Open Category and Specific Category, and only the named Remote Pilot, as detailed on the University's CAA Operational Authorisation, can perform drone operations under the"Specific Category". Rules on 3rd Party appointments are summarised below.
Drone & Model Aircraft Registration Scheme (DMARES)
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) (who oversee the use of drones) requires that any person operating any camera-equipped drone, even sub 250g undertake DMARES. DMARES is an on-line training and registration scheme, with the person undertaking the course issued with Flyer ID on completion.
PLEASE NOTE: To provide assurance of a basic level of competency, the University requires all staff and students operating drones to undertake DMARES as a minimum.
An Operator ID is required by any person (may be an organization) operating any drone 250g and over and any drone with a camera (excludes drones classed as a toy). The University has an Operator ID for all University owned drones and which must be displayed on the drone. Staff and students wishing to operate their own drone on University related business must ensure they obtain their own Operator ID and display as required.
Use of Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) Policy
To support drone operations, the University has developed the Drones Policy that places a duty on each Dean of College / Head of Professional Service to establish systems to ensure any drone used by their College / Service is operated safely and correctly. This in order to prevent harm to any person, the environment and / or assets.
The following summarises key College / Service Policy responsibilities:
- Ensure H&S Office authorisation is obtained and CAA Operational Authorisation is in place where required
- Ensure Staff and Students understand the procedures associated with the use of drones, including competency and authorisation requirements.
- Provide appropriate training and supervision to enable Staff and Students to operate drones correctly and safely.
- Maintain all relevant records e.g. training, authorisations.
- Monitor drone use, with concerns or changes in drone activity notified to the H&S Office immediately.
3rd Party Commissions
- When commissioning a 3rd Party to operate a drone on behalf of the College / Department, confirming the organisation has an appropriate CAA Operational Authorisation, have trained and registered Pilots, Insurances, Data Permissions (eg Filming Agreement) and are experienced in the type of work.
- Informing the H&S Office of the intention to appoint a 3rd Party, using the 3rd Party-led Drone Operation Approval Form, with approval received before work takes place. This includes details of where they are planning to over fly and confirmation of safe distances from people and property.
- Where aerial work is around or above University buildings or property, inform relevant Schools / Services of the drone work and controls that are in place and where appropriate, agree the time of overflying to minimise disruption.
- If filming above land / property ‘not owned’ by the University seek written permission of the person responsible for that area before submitting the 3rd Party-Led Drone Operation Form to the H&S Office.
Recreational Use / Flying Drones for Fun
You are responsible for each flight. Legal responsibility lies with you and failure to fly responsibly could result in criminal prosecution. The CAA has a detailed website with important information. Requirements may include completion of DMARES and an Operator ID which must be displayed on the drone.
Recreational Drone Flight; in simple terms, the regulations state that:
- Always keep your drone in sight at all times.
- Stay below 400 ft.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Keep the right distance from people and property.
- You are responsible for each flight.
- Stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields.
A great video on the basic drone regulations has been made by the First Person View drone association.